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Through hell and high

A short tale about the water

By Karen CavePublished 3 years ago 6 min read

There is something wrong with the water. I don't know that I can accurately make that statement, I don't know for sure that it is true. I understand in all probability that I can't really trust my reality, or my mind. I could well be going insane.

But I know one thing deep in my guts: I wouldn't sip from that glass of water if you paid me a million. Just in case, you understand.

You see, my past is somewhat marred by what might be considered to be 'bad decisions.'

The woman is circling the room, her dark, shredded clothes hanging off her. She reeks of decay, of decomposition. Christ, her eyes. They terrify me, shining brightly and intensely out of a face darkened by muck. And they never leave my face, as she paces back and forth. I can't take my eyes off hers’, it is like watching a tiger in a cage. Somehow, I know that if I stop watching her, she will pounce.

Her face is twisted with rage. She has been through a war, of that I have no doubt.


Twelve hours ago, I had been brought here, bound and kicking, either by this woman or by her people. A stinking cloth bag had been pulled roughly over my face, obscuring my view, so that all I could see was dark brown fabric scratching my face, and all I could hear were the sounds of the large vehicle as it swerved wildly and navigated to get us to our destination.

Unsettling noises had become apparent, close to my face, and it took me a while to realise they were coming from me. I was moaning, whimpering, in little low sounds that sounded guttural; the fear made me unrecognisable to my own ears. Gradually the tears had dried, and I locked into myself in a kind of wide-awake but docile fright. I was trying not to think about whether I would still be alive tomorrow... my small team of dedicated scientists relied on me, and we were so unbelievably close to reaching a breakthrough.

Hoisted by strong hands and bodies, I heard the grunts of the men as I was dragged past cool walls and secured to a firm, heavy chair that felt icy and metallic. I could smell the rust forming on the metal. I could smell something else too, something I hadn't quite pinpointed yet, but vaguely recognised.

It was all about the lake, you see. Something was in there, something that affected the composition of human anatomy, broke it down gradually. Something that was beautiful and terrifying.


I suddenly have a horrible feeling that I am not going to come out of this unscathed. But what is the worst they can do to me? Interrogate me, torture me? Let them have their way, I will never stop doing what I am doing. I will never talk. They cannot know the details of the research anyhow. How could they possibly know?

I am getting so freaking thirsty, but I will not betray my need. I will give away nothing to my captors. I will remain as cold and calm as my body will allow. Adrenaline causes a bitter taste in my throat, but they do not need to know this.


The woman had come in periodically and ranted and raved to me as she paced. At other times I heard her whispering close to my ear, felt the rush of warm breath tickling the side of my face. Could I trust what I was hearing though? I was delirious and found myself muttering at times, unable to now make sense of how much time was passing. Was it mere minutes, or was it days?

The cloth bag was removed, and it took a few minutes to acclimatise to any semblance of light. I realise there is very little light in my cell. A narrow chink shines down from a far corner window as if poured from the heavens, falling straight into one of the woman's mad eyes as she continues to pace and rant. I had been tightly bound to the chair, and squirmed around desperately in discomfort, trying to get some feeling back into my hands and feet.

Once unmasked, I had expected to be interrogated somehow, beaten, tortured, but none of this had come. If they didn't want to hurt me or extort me, then what did they want?


She places the glass of water on the grimy, metal table before me. I feel a pang of emotion. She watches me constantly. She knows. I refuse to give in to fear though, I will not show any weakness to these people.

She is pulling off thick, men's work gloves that are far too large for her, having been careful, I realise, not to touch even the rim of the glass. They don't untie me yet, and inside I am crying from dehydration, so tired I can barely hold my head up. My tongue is a sandy slug, grating against the roof, without moisture and somehow too big for my mouth.

Time goes on and my thirst grows insatiable, my eyes moving to the glass more and more often. I can feel the cool water pouring down my parched throat. It is agony. The glass stays on the table, a constant torture device. I realise it is there to taunt me.

She continues to rage, and I slowly realise, through my exhausted delirium, that most of her vitriol is being directed at me. She definitely knows. My research work, which authorises illegal top-secret experiments being carried out on people, is at the bottom of this, I am sure.

(A voice in my head says: There is Something in the Water.)

Not important people, you understand. The dregs of society; the druggies, reprobates. Not those who will be missed by many. Nobody who ever achieved anything of merit.

She is gesturing towards the glass. She is starting to come closer to me. I sense her purpose. Her raging eyes are full of fire, and I feel I know what this is now. I am being tested perhaps? Punished for my misdemeanours. We had learned of abnormal substances in the water, in the big lake, and we had seen the effects on people who had swum there. It was the natural next step surely, to sample this special liquid, and study the results, to find out what the hell happened when people had the water inside them? Could they survive? For how long? All natural questions, basic curiosity.

What it did to the outsides and the skin and muscle was unthinkable. We watched, you see. We documented it all.

My hands are untied, and I am pushed roughly to the stone floor. I am so weakened from dehydration that I can barely lift my head. She is bringing me the water, which I now know to be my liquid salvation, and the bringer of my doom. I will become my own scientific breakthrough. I understand what I am being accused of, and what I am expected to do to atone.

It is all my fault. I simply didn't care enough about human lives, and suffering, in the name of my quest for knowledge. Flashbacks of surreal malformations, of sizzling, dissolving skin and prolonged screams happen upon my mind. We recorded it all, us scientists, every last death rattle. And even when they were barely alive, when they pleaded for a quick end, we merely carried on recording, without emotion. Because it wasn't us. And I would be lying if I hadn't enjoyed, somehow, the power it had made me feel.

I have no choice. I am going to discover it for myself, what this water does. It was different for everyone. I wonder what agonies await me.

I'm feeling sick as she leans in close. "We're going to keep you alive as long as possible," she hisses in my face, emphasising each word. "We have IV drips here, and doctors. No painkillers will be administered to you."

She smiles at me. "You are going to suffer, just as you made your hundreds of medical subjects suffer. Without hope and without mercy."

I nod bleakly. I will do it. In the name of science, I will do it. God help me. My eyes close for a split second. "Make sure you document everything," I whisper. Her eyes glitter. She is really rather pretty. She nods and replies, "With pleasure. Now, drink."

I take the glass from her with trembling hands and take the first, cool sip of water.


About the Creator

Karen Cave

A mum, a friend to many and I love to explore dark themes and taboos in my

Hope you enjoy! I appreciate all likes, comments - and please share if you'd like more people to see my work.

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Comments (1)

  • LC Minniti10 months ago

    Chills! I know this post in years old, but bravo. Also, as much as I want to know what happens to that mad scientist after the water ingestion, I love that it's scarier because it's left to my imagination. The water being in an IV scared me even more than drinking it. Something is really invasive and disturbing about that.

Karen CaveWritten by Karen Cave

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